Archive for the ‘Media’ Tag

After Newtown

This one hit me harder than most.   My youngest is the same age as these kids, and attends a small-town school just like Sandy Hook…

After the fear and anger began to settle, I forced myself to THINK – how can these tragedies be avoided?   I couldn’t think of any easy answers, and I don’t think we should expect there to be.   I was gratified that the President did not state it as a simple problem with a simple solution, but promised to work quickly to define actions that would make these tragedies less likely.   I am choosing to have confidence that the Adminstration will work hard to do this, and do it well.

Of course, the news and the rest of our idiot media seem to have very quickly retreated into their useless “they said/they said” crap, so eager to be seen as showing “both sides” that they utterly fail to do any analysis, investigation, or real reporting (with very few exceptions).   Once again, it was our premier satirist, Jon Stewart and his team at the Daily Show, who made the only real attempt to look at the tragedy, to understand the issue(s), and talk about what might be done about it.   If you haven’t already, you can watch him HERE.

What do I think?

I think the media likes to make it seem like these are the only two views, but these are actually two extremes:

  • Take away bad guns – or all guns
  • No new gun laws – or no gun laws at all

But it’s not simple; it’s not either/or.  Like most serious issues, it’s what psychology and philosophy call an “over-determined” problem.  There are multiple interrelated factors that need to be understood and dealt with.   It’s not caused just by guns or mental illness (or evil or stupidity, i.e., ‘bad guys’), but by a confluence of factors.  A basic way to state what we need to look at could be:

“Stop or at least inhibit the confluence of ‘bad guy’ and gun”

If we frame the problem intelligently, and AVOID TAKING INTRANSIGENT ‘POSITIONS’, then we have a real chance to help reduce (but probably not eliminate) these tragedies.  The truth is usually somewhere between two extremes…

What are some of the things I think need to be part of any discussion?

  • Screening and background checks – these are largely in place, BUT:
    • It’s too easy to get guns, including consumer versions of cool military weapons.   There must be some improvement of screening to make guns – especially military mocks – a little harder to obtain.   This is harder than it sounds.  How do you define who should be allowed to buy a gun?   We need to at least talk about it and TRY to make it less likely that bad guy joins with gun.
    • Congress repeatedly modifies appropriations and passes ‘mini-laws’ that make it difficult for background checks to be done well under current law.   And these checks need to be improved in light of Newtown.
    • Federal and local agencies must have the funding to validate, investigate, pursue, and prosecute violations of laws meant to prevent screened individuals and groups from obtaining weapons.   Right now they choose to prosecute ridiculously few of the violations that ARE reported.
    • The parameters of screening – who should not be able to purchase a weapon – must be sufficient to reduce the confluence of bad guy and weapon.   This should be the primary judgment criteria for such screening.
  • What guns should be available?  Currently legal guns are based on what could conversationally described as a threshold based on:
    • Caliber – size of projectile and destructive power
    • Firing rate – the ability to delivery many projectiles (bullets) quickly

Since the 1930s, machine guns have been illegal, and since 1986, it has been illegal to own any fully automatic weapon – one able to fire multiple times with one depression of a trigger.   Both these restrictions were supported by the NRA.

The main killing weapon used at Newtown, the AR15, is a semi-automatic version of the standard military issue (since Vietnam) M16 rifle.   Its caliber is identical to the M16 and legal for sale to the public.  Should the thresholds be modified to include military-‘type’ (e.g., .223) weapons barred for sale to the public?   Retired General Stanley McChrystal and others think there is no need for a private person to have a weapon this destructive (his word), and that its use should be limited to Military personnel.   This should be part of the discussion.

  • Ammunition is regulated less effectively (to put it mildly) than the weapons that require it to function.   Ammunition should be subject to the same level of background check as weapons purchases.   Legal threshold definitions can be modified to also limit the size of storage/loading cartridges (‘clips’), although these are not difficult to fabricate (basically a metal box and springs).   This should be part of the discussion.
  • Education is a big factor.   Why not require proper training for the acquisition of any weapon, especially firearms?
  • There are social/cultural factors as well.   We have too many movies, games, and social institutions that glorify a “gun = manliness” mentality.   We need to stigmatize and de-idolize the Rambo mentality.
  • We need to talk about the illegal – criminal – acquisition of guns.   It is still too easy to get guns, especially handguns, illegally.   Remember, the majority (by far) of gun crimes and deaths are from handguns.   This MUST be a part of the discussion.

There are more factors, I’m sure, but these seem like a minimum.

Remember, though, especially in these days of so-called fiscal conservatism:   Are we willing to pay enough to resolve this problem, or at least severely reduce it?   The Justice Department, our Police Forces, the BATF, and the FBI – are we willing to pay for our authorities to be able to enforce laws of this type – even existing laws?

We have many types of crime and wrongs in the country, and many of them are more commonplace than gun violence.   But as a nation of moral people, of parents, families and villages, shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to deter future slaughters (sorry – the blunt word is accurate) like what happened in Newtown, in Aurora, at Virginia Tech and other places?   I revere our Constitution and all of the rights it enshrines – but I cannot excuse doing nothing by pointing to the Second Amendment.

As Our President has reminded us, we are a great Nation, capable of solving tough, complicated problems.   I pray that we won’t fail at this moment because the work of finding solutions is too hard for those we elected to office.

Media and The Horse Race

I’ve railed (mostly privately) about the pathetic media – both print, voice and video – and their nearly total focus on the ‘horse race’ aspects of the Presidential campaign.   Why don’t they examine ‘real issues’?   Why don’t they hold the candidates and their surrogates to at least a minimal standard of honesty?

With the exceptions of (1) Fox News, which is a pure political appendage of the Republican Party, and (2) MSNBC, which is a pathetic sort of “Anti-Fox”, the other major outlets all focus mainly on “how will this impact the polls” and other such nonsense (How did this look to the ‘WalMart Moms’?; What is the ‘Twitterverse’ (really) saying?).

I used to think that this was simply part of the media’s fear of losing access.   Outside of the campaigns, I still think this is true.   The media knows or believes that if they are too “hard” (whatever that means.. could it be that legendary idea of ‘hard news’?) on the reps or candidates of whichever party, they risk losing the cooperation of these people – interviews, background, etc.   To these folks, access is everything, and the parties know this and use it to tame the media.

But I realized that isn’t all of it, especially as regards the behavior of the media during presidential campaigns…   I realized that politics has become just like Sports or the Weather…   The media outlets are desperate to be the first to predict the outcome correctly.   Have we ever seen such a ridiculous and escalating focus on polling and surveys?   And what the heck is a “Poll of Polls” and who thinks that actually means anything??   I’ve been well trained in data collection and analysis, and I can tell you it’s nonsense.

It’s a sad state of affairs.   We have no one helping us to dig through the bullshit to find the facts buried under it.  And O Yes, Virginia, even though the ridiculous “Fact Checker” industry has become a joke, there Really Are Such Things As Facts.

They just don’t sell well.

Too Funny

Governor Romney calling Obama’s “… campaign tactics “disgusting” and “demeaning,” adding: “It’s something which I think the president should take responsibility for and stop.”  This regarding questioning the practices of Bain Capital, Romney’s main claim to business expertise.

This from a party and campaign saying that the current President is “taking away our Freedoms” and “Attacking the Constitution”, and the usual “Taking away our Guns”.

Funny and sad…

Look – I am convinced that Mr. Romney had no operational role at Bain after he left for the Olympics in SLC.   But that’s not the point.   Romney wants to distance himself from what Bain did after 1999, because that’s when most of the deals were done that had “politically unpalatable content and consequences” (read as increased use of outsourcing/offshoring and other such US job losing tactics).   Understandable – but does he want us to belive that Bain ‘suddenly’ changed tactics after he left?   Did they begin operating in a way that was objectionable – to Romney?   If so, he should say so.   If not, he should explain why their tactics were ok.  After all, he helped found the company.

Is Romney proud of the company he started, or not?

Pathetic so-called Press

Why is our press so pathetic?    The answer: Access.     They crave the access they have to our government functionaries and the power structure, and they know that if they confront them or anger them, they may lose that access.   Pretty sad.

All I want is to see some actual pointed questions asked.   For example, the Republicans love to use the focus-tested term “Class Warfare”.   Fine.    But they are allowed to turn around and use other focus-tested terms like “broaden the tax base” without challenge.   Why won’t any reporter ask any GOP hack, “But isn’t that just Class Warfare by another name?   Isn’t your point that a large number of ‘not rich’ folks aren’t paying enough?”   Instead, our heroic reporters nod their heads and congratulate themselves on letting Both Sides tell their story.

I dream, I now…

Debt Ceiling Made Simple

Apparently our so-called press cannot rise to the duty of adequately educating folks on the implications of failing to raise our debt limit.. so here goes:

  1. The debt ceiling has very little to do with future plans, i.e. the budget ‘deals’ being talked about.
  2. The debt ceiling is about our ability to pay our existing obligationsmoney we have already promised.  These obligations include payments to holders of our debt (Treasury Bonds), most of whom are American investors.   Despite rumour-mongering to the contrary, China is not our biggest holder of bonds/debt – they are simply the largest foreign holder.
  3. Our existing obligations exceed the amount of money we take in.
  4. Treasury Bonds have been considered – up to now – the safest, most reliable investment on earth.   Why?   Because the United States Treasury (and by extent, America) always pays its bills on time.
  5. Treasury bonds are nearly the most widely held investment on earth.   This is part of what makes the US Dollar the world’s standard currency.
  6. Failure to raise the debt ceiling will mean one very simple thing:  by August 2, the US Treasury will be barred by law from borrowing any more money beyond the current legislated limit (althought this legislated limit actually ended in May).
  7. While this sounds fine to the morons fighting it,  what it will mean is that item #4 will no longer be true.  The US Dollar, and US Treasury Bonds will no longer be the safest investment in the world.
  8. What can this lead to?   Here’s where arguments can logically start.   But basically:
    • Calls to move from the US Dollar as the world’s base currency will intensify and may be successful.
    • Someone will not get paid.   This is a fact, inevitable.   Without borrowing money (which is issuing US Treasury Bonds), the Treasury does not take in enough revenue to meet all of our commitments.    Let me say it louder: without borrowing, the Treasury will NOT BE ABLE TO MEET ITS CURRENT OBLIGATIONS.   Let that sink in.  The calculations I have seen center around beginning at 40%, and worsening the longer we go without the ability to borrow.
    • Cash flow will be – very suddenly – reduced in the US and world economy.   This has to do with a fact the so-called ‘conservatives’ (I refuse to dignify these dips with the Title – and caps) like to ignore:  the US Government spends money, and people get paid.   In other words, the Government does produce jobs, income (for citizens), and has a positive impact on the economy.  Obvious when you stop and think about it, but then thinking is not exactly in vogue these days.

It would be nice if we had elected adults to be our representatives, but apparently we haven’t.   And our press has become so pathetic that all they are is a reporter/repeater of what these  drones and cronies spout every day.   It’s hard not to get angry at what I see every day.

But I continue to have hope that they will act like adults – eventually.

But that hope is being planed away by the rigid dogma they all spout.

“Birther” shmurther

Does anyone really think that this will shut up the crazies?   Please.   There is a large sub-species/population that simply cannot stand having that n****r in the White House as President.   They will find some other ‘obvious flaws’ that inauthenticate even this document.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/27/white-house-releases-obama-birth-certificate/?hpt=C1

Why have these folks not been satisfied by a legal process that worked fine for at least one Senator (Inouye) and one actor (Keanu Reeves)…?   If the answer isn’t obvious by now, then you must have your head up your ass.

Further:   the first person to try to compare this to the criticisms of George W. Bush (e.g., the facts of his privileged “Play Army” avoidance of real service in Vietnam, and the Supreme Court’s decision to tell a State Government (FL – remember) that it had to stop its own election process, including recounts and verifications)   should be slapped in the face with the largest fish locally available.

With so much of  the rest of the world struggling to establish real democracy – based on what we once were – we give the world a circus.

Media Ignorance – a Spiritual Problem?

The media (in this case, specifically CNN) show its ignorance in this article about research that showed the spiritual aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous’s 12 steps (and AA’s success).

They could have done easier research:  read the history of the people who founded AA.    Bill W, AA’s founder, was catalyzed by discussions with a friend that had been treated by Carl Jung.   Jung had unsuccessfully tried to help this person quit drinking.   His suggestion was to seek a ‘spiritual conversion’, since that had been effective in some cases Jung knew of.

The 12 Steps are by design a path to spiritual growth.   That is why AA has been so effective (and I speak from personal experience in my family) – it focuses on the healing of the person’s soul, on all of the aspects that helped drive, condone, and are impacted (injured) by the alcoholic’s disease.

It’s history – interesting that the writer of this story (or the researchers) seem not to have been aware – or willing to look.

Poor, Poor Juan Williams

The media circus – and its own reporting on its reactions to itself (Media Masturbation??) – continues. Juan Williams was fired from NPR, ostensibly for dipshit comments he made in a circle-jerk ‘discussion’ of Muslims.

Juan Williams is a weak commentator. Him getting fired from NPR is about as shocking as Alan Colmes getting canned from Hannity’s Gas-bag gig.   Now Brit Hume, et al, get to keep Juan as their token liberal for ‘balance’ (I’m laughing so hard it hurts right now)

Next in line (I predict) – Mark Shields from PBS/NPR. Same reasons:  he’s weak & incoherent. Watching him give ‘counterpoint’ to someone as bright as David Brooks is too sad to even be comical.

Not Your Father’s GOP – continued

First, let me get the other side of this out of the way: the Democratic Party is incompetent, at both campaigning and governing.

But…

The Republican Party (the self-proclaimed Right) has an outstandingly organized message machine – nationwide in scope, covering every media that influences votes, money, and all of the ‘voices’ of Power.   They work with discipline to hone the most effective words (especially by working with Frank Luntz) to associate ‘bad’ with all of their opposition.   While this may be what opposing parties/organizations have always tried to do, no organization has had this much machinery, operating so effectively, ever before.  They have, though, become the Liberals they hated in the 60s and 70s: claiming not only that their opposition is wrong – their opposition does not even know how to think!

Think about what they’ve accomplished…  The GOP can successfully badger the press into the following:

  • Pooh-pooh-ing any talk of –
    • Right-wing media ‘machinery’
    • Concerns about right-wing government policies leading to government-control concerns
    • Tax-cutting as a cause of deficits
  • Yet, paradoxically, condoning & promulgating talk of –
    • Left-wing government ‘takeovers’ of industries & other parts of our daily life
    • Left-wing conspiracies, even to the point of such conspiracies ‘planting’ right-wing actions and fomentation of dissent
    • The oxymoronic proposition that (a) Democrats are incompetent, yet (b) Democrats control the media, have taken control of major businesses – and Are Trying to Control YOU!!!

The media has been so successfully cowed by the GOP’s accusations of “Liberal Bias” that they are afraid to call out bullshit when they encounter it – from whatever source.   They have become barely better than gossip-mongers, focusing mostly on repeating what other people have said – without any attempt to uncover the Bullshit Percentage.

To me, the GOP is more like Mister Softee (and my deep apologies to Mister Softee for the analogy).  They are salespeople, primarily, but they sell fluff: air-filled facsimiles of real wholesomeness.  Sure, it looks like ice cream, but it’s full of air – cheap.   But EVERYONE loves ice cream!!    That’s how the GOP is – they pick the easy, childish ‘sell’ – who doesn’t want “Lower taxes”, a “Stronger America”, and who would argue with the “Sanctity of Life”…? 

But they are empty, full of air.   They are very well-organized, but what they are after is power.   And they are after power so they can line their own pockets, making sure they ‘get theirs’.  

Any time public figures try to tell us they are Just Like Us, or are Looking Out for Us, warning bells should sound in our heads.   I may not know a lot – but I know when I smell crap.

And the GOP is selling crap.

Palin the Quitter

It’s so sad to see the press so afraid of offending any public figure.   I need to see the media ask Sarah Palin one simple question as she dangles the possibility of a Presidential run in front of them:

“Mrs Palin – if you run for President, why should any voter not fear you’d quit if things get too rough, as you did to the people of Alaska?”

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